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Karl Tizzard Kleister

Performing sympathetic presence: can drama open a space for developing person-centred care? 
Broadly speaking, person-centred nursing (PCN)1 attempts to humanise nursing care, which has been reported to falter due to failings such as unsatisfactory patient-practitioner interactions.2 One process championed in the Person-Centred Nursing Framework (PCNF) which aims to address this issue is “sympathetic presence”, described as ‘an engagement that recognises the uniqueness and value of the individual’ cared for by a nurse ‘in the moment’.3 PCN researchers highlight being creative, facilitative, other-centred, reflexive, attentive, mindful and ready to be vulnerable as crucial areas of development for PCN students and practitioners.4 Resonantly, these are all long discussed themes of applied drama5, particularly applied drama aligned with interrogating notions of community and health.6  

When thinking through applied drama theory and practice, sympathetic presence can be repositioned as a relational7 performance8 of care, similarly to Thompson’s repositioning of aesthetics in applied theatre.9 Moreover, applied theatre creates an opening, or potentiality, for participants to imagine, embody and experience new futures.10 The particularities of applied drama practice have been described to create both a congenial and dilemmatic space,11 an environment in which risks can be taken with relative safety. This shows the potential for applied drama to be used in PCN, as risk aversion is identified as a major barrier for achieving the theories of PCN in practice.12 As O’Grady suggests, theatre can be ‘a metaphorical space where risks can be taken and subversive ideas played out', or as Gallagher states, used to ‘artistically frame a ‘real’ research problem’.13  
This presentation will present on a drama-based research course delivered to volunteer first-year PCN students at UU as part of an ongoing PhD study, combining a performative exploration of the researcher’s position within the research through auto-ethnography,14 as well as presenting initial findings from data collected. 

1 McCormack & McCance, 2010; McCormack & McCance, 2017; McCormack et al. 2017  
2 TNA GUK, 2013; PCC, 2017; NMC, 2018  
3 McCormack and McCance, 2017: 102; McCormack and McCance, 2010: 104  
4 Niessen and Jacobs, 2015: 2; Titchen et al., 2017: 38; Williams and McCormack, 2017:  
5 Nicholson, 2005; Prentki & Preston, 2008; Hughes and Nicholson, 2016  
6 McAvinchey, 2014; Baxter & Low, 2017  
7 Like the ideas of an ethics of care (Held, 2010; Tronto, 2013)  
8 Here I use the term performance to reflect Goffman’s dramaturgy of everyday life (1990), as well as Butler’s ideas on performativity and identity (2006), tapping into what is broadly called the performative turn (Schechner, 2006).  
9 Thompson, 2015.  
10 Preston, 2016; Harpin & Nicholson, 2017; Sloan 2018.  
11 White, 2009; Preston, 2016  
12 Dingwall et al, 2017  
13 O'Grady, 2017: 7; Gallagher, 2011: 328.  
14 Wall, 2006; Ngunjiri et al., 2010. 
Karl Tizzard-Kleister is a PhD researcher in Drama and Nursing at Ulster University (UU). His research explores how drama can be used in nursing education. Recently he has explored how applied drama and puppetry creates safe and creative spaces to experience risk and vulnerability for student nurses.